Using laser-created scans of the jungles in northern Guatemala, researchers digitally removed the tree canopy from images of the area. The editing was made possible by a technology called LiDAR, which scans pictures taken at a birds’-eye view uncovered an entire new city in the Central American jungle.
The ancient Maya civilization was one of the most advanced to arise in Mesoamerica, marked by sophisticated mathematics and engineering that allowed it to spread throughout present-day Central America and southern Mexico.
The new discovery that the jungles were concealing is a Mayan “megalopolis” with more than 60,000 structures that were previously unknown, including houses, palaces, and even highways, National Geographic reported.
The implications of these findings are massive, as they could indicate that the Mayan civilization was much bigger team than we first thought.
Wartime structures were discovered as well. Included among the structures were ramparts, fortresses, terraces, and defensive walls.
Canals, reservoirs, and dikes were dug as well, made to direct the massive amount of rainwater that still falls in Guatemalan jungles today. Everything in the area showed signs of planning for the rainy season and complex irrigation and terracing systems that supported intensive agriculture.
This food source was capable of feeding masses of more than 10 millions people who dramatically reshaped the landscape.
The team of archaeologists surveyed more than 2,100 sq km of the Peten jungle and even revealed a pyramid in the heart of the ancient Maya city of Tikal, a major tourist destination in northeastern Guatemala.
The pyramid is nearly 100 feet, 30 meters, tall and was previously thought to be a small mountain.
This is one of the greatest advances in over 150 years of Maya archaeology because it shows us Mayan culture is grossly underestimated. Based off these scan, cities like Tikal could be three or four times greater than previously thought.
There are more secrets lurking out in the Guatemala jungle. The National Geographic’s Lost Treasures of the Maya Snake Kings, which explores this research, will premiere on March 6.